Temporary Worker Visas / U.S.
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Temporary worker visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time, and are not considered permanent or indefinite. Each of these visas requires the prospective employer to first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An approved petition is required to apply for a work visa.
Temporary worker visa categories
Visa category General description – About an individual in this category:
H-1B: Person in Specialty
To work in a specialty occupation.
Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models
of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and
development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of
H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
Professional – Chile, Singapore To
work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at
least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a
petition-based visa. For application procedures, please refer to the website
for the U.S. Embassy in Chile or the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.)
H-2A: Temporary Agricultural
Worker For temporary or seasonal
agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries,
with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural
Worker For temporary or
seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated
countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States
H-3: Trainee or Special
Education visitor To receive training,
other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s
home country or practical training programs in the education of children with
mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.
L: Intracompany Transferee To work at a branch, parent, affiliate,
or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or
in a position requiring specialized knowledge.
Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad
continuously for 1
year within the three preceding years.
O: Individual with Extraordinary
Ability or Achievement For persons with
extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education,
business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion
picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or
international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons
providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-1: Individual or Team Athlete,
or Member of an Entertainment Group To
perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an
entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained
performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the
P-2: Artist or Entertainer
(Individual or Group) For performance
under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United
States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing
essential services in support of the above individual.
P-3: Artist or Entertainer
(Individual or Group) To perform, teach
or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic,
folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation.
Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above
Q-1: Participant in an
International Cultural Exchange Program For
practical training and employment and for sharing of the history, culture, and
traditions of your home country through participation in an international
cultural exchange program.
Some temporary worker visa categories
require your prospective employer to obtain a labor certification or other
approval from the Department of Labor on your behalf before filing the Petition
for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with USCIS. Your prospective
employer should review the Instructions for Form I-129 on the USCIS website to
determine whether labor certification is required for you.
Some temporary worker categories are
limited in total number of petitions which can be approved on a yearly basis.
Before you can apply for a temporary worker visa at a U.S. Embassy or
Consulate, a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, must be filed on your
behalf by a prospective employer and be approved by USCIS. For more
information about the petition process,
eligibility requirements by visa category, and numerical limits, if applicable,
see Working in the U.S. and Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers on the USCIS
website. Once the petition is approved, USCIS will send your prospective
employer a Notice of Action, Form I-797.
How to Apply
After USCIS approves the Petition
for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), you may apply for a visa. There
are several steps in the visa application process. The order of these steps and
how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you
apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate
website where you will apply.
Complete The Online Visa Application
Online Nonimmigrant Visa
Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa
application and 2) print
the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
Photo –You will upload your photo
while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format
explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Schedule an Interview
While interviews are generally not
required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have
the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.
If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger
Generally not required
14 – 79
Required (some exceptions for
80 and older
Generally not required
You must schedule an appointment for
your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country
where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or
Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside
of your place of permanent residence.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:
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